By Simon Abaho
The High Court in Masaka has released on bail two opposition MPs including Allan Ssewanyana(Makindye West) and Muhammad Ssegirinya(Kawempe North) after spending almost two weeks in prison over the recent spate of murders.
The two MPs were recently charged with murder and terrorism following the death of over 25 people who were hacked to death by machete-wielding assailants in the greater Masaka region.
On Monday, the two legislators who were not in court physically but via zoom were represented by lawyer Erias Lukwago who convinced court that the duo are entitled to bail whereas Ssegirinya has some illness that needs medical attention.
“These Members of Parliament who need to represent their electorates in parliament but they also have families to look after. This cannot be done while in prison. Court should be lenient enough to have them released on bail,” Lukwago said.
The lawyers presented Veronica Nannyondo(Bukomansimbi woman MP),Francis Katabaazi(Kalungu East), Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda(Kira Municipality), Christine Ndiwalana(Bukomansimbi North), Francis Zaake Butebi(Mityana Municipality) and Walugembe Robert Mawanda as the sureties for the two legislators.
After listening from both sides, Justice Victoria Nakintu reasoned with Lukwago and accepted to release the duo on a Shs20 million cash bail whereas each of the six sureties was asked to pay Shs100 non cash bond.
“The fact that they are honourable Members of Parliament with known places of abode in the jurisdiction of the court, the sureties presented are responsible members of society who can easily be located in the vein that the applicants, subsequent absence of any evidence from the respondent that there is a likelihood that the applicants may abscond and the absence of any evidence that applicants would interfere with investigations, the accused are granted bail,” the judge said.
The Masaka High Court judge explained that the accused are presumed innocent until proven guilty and that consequently, it is their right to be released on bail pending the hearing of the case against them.
“Court is satisfied that the applicants will return to attend trial and the sureties presented are substantial. Accordingly, their application for bail is allowed.”
The two legislators jailed at Kigo prison in Wakiso district were however not released on Monday since by the time court ended, it was past 5:00pm and the banks, where the lawyers were supposed to pay the Shs20 million bail bail, had already been closed.